We have a huge hoot for 10 burrowing owls who are thriving in a beachfront community adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport.

The beachfront community of Surfridge became a ghost town decades ago to make way for the jet age, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, but now is a haven for some of the rarest creatures in California as it remains off limits to the public.

When scientists recently discovered the owls hunkered down in the 302-acre preserve, they were elated. “This is very exciting—a real stunner,” biologist Pete Bloom told the paper. “For wintering owls, this tiny chunk of land has become priceless coastal real estate. That’s because there is no place else left for them to go in the city of Los Angeles.”

Burrowing owl numbers have been dwindling steadily since the 1940s due to urban development, eradication of the rodents they feed on, pesticides, predation by domestic animals, vehicle strikes, collisions with wind turbines and shootings.

The owls are the latest species to add complexity to an undulating habitat of sand, native brush and invasive weeds — a small wild island surrounded by asphalt, subdivisions and freeways, according to the newspaper. It is home to 900 species of plants and animals.

This story underscores the importance of open spaces for wildlife that are off-limits to hunters, a topic we address in this article in Action Line. Please read and share.